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South Wales Police officer appears in court charged with perverting course of justice

17 Aug 2023 3 minute read
South Wales Police HQ In Bridgend. Picture from Google Maps

A serving police officer has appeared in court charged with perverting the course of justice.

Pc Paul Higgins, 41, of South Wales Police, is also charged with three counts of unauthorised access to police computer systems, and one count of improper exercise of police powers.

Charges allege that the officer, of Hengoed, Caerphilly, intended to secure unauthorised access to a programme or data held in a computer in Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taf, between August 29 and September 21 2020.

He is accused of exercising “the powers and privileges of a constable improperly” by pursuing and engaging in a sexual relationship with a woman whom he originally met as a victim of crime.

It is also alleged that Higgins did a series of acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice at Aberdare between April 1 2021 and December 12 2022.

The charges detail the alleged acts as giving incorrect accounts to colleagues, supervisors and investigators from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) regarding how the relationship with the woman started.

Higgins is said to have “encouraged her to give the same false account” to investigators, which charges allege “had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice”.

The officer spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address during a hearing at Newport Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning. He did not enter pleas to the five charges against him.

Unconditional bail

Judge David Webster sent the case to Newport Crown Court for trial and released Higgins on unconditional bail.

He told the defendant: “The court has determined that this is a matter that has to go to the crown court.

“The first hearing will take place at Newport Crown Court on September 14.

“Prior to that hearing, the court expects you to have had discussions and advice from your counsel and your solicitor and be in a position to deal with the issues for trial arrangement at the next hearing.

“If you fail to attend without reasonable excuse on September 14, you commit a separate offence.”

Jonathan Evans appeared for the prosecution during the hearing while Rina-Marie Hill represented Higgins.

The IOPC began an investigation into the officer following a referral about his conduct from South Wales Police in May 2021.

Charges were authorised by the Crown Prosecution Service after the IOPC passed it a file of evidence following completion of its investigation in February 2023.

South Wales Police told the police watchdog that Higgins remains suspended.

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